2 Corinthians 4
8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you. 13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” 14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. 16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
I have always loved this passage and shared it with all who are grieving or walking through difficulty. I love the depth and rawness of the words that we carry with us the death of Jesus and that we live under its constant danger. I love the graveness of this passage because it pierces so fiercely into the dark, dark world we live in. I feel like I have just been so inundated with glimpses of the vast darkness in our fallen world over the past few months, and my heart grieves these nasty circumstances or situations so much because I know that I know that we were not created for this. We were created for a world of promised tomorrows, kept covenants, restful nights, and peaceful days.
Recently, I was meeting with a group of small group leaders. We ended up gathering in a circle next to a casket that was in place for a skit going on at the facility. Our leader was leading our group with his shoes untied, because he had to run out the door to make it on time and was hard-pressed to even have time to tie his shoes with his attention to his family. These were solely circumstances by chance, but I realized what a picture this is of the body of Christ. We live in a world where death is so near. A world where we get paralyzing phone calls that there have been car wrecks. A world where planes crash. A world where biopsies come back positive. A world where friends talk behind your back. And a world full of all kinds of other hardships. But we, we the body of Christ, “we hold this treasure in clay jars”. We are called to circle around one another, to carry each other’s burdens, to breathe life into the dead, to be vessels to revive the valley of dry bones.
We serve this invisible God in this dying world. Thus, as the body, our job is to make Him visible in whatever ways we can. But we can’t forget that we too are a part of this world. We also receive those hard phone calls, face those conflicts, feel those hurts, and grieve those deaths. And as we rally around and vow to bring light to the darkness with all our might, we become warn out. So worn out and so weary. And I think all too often, we can come to find our identity in our exhaustion, our noble exhaustion.
So Jesus has called me out from just saying “Oh I’m too tired” and moving on, especially with these two pictures in the gospels. Jesus, too, was weary once. He was a few nights away from brutal beatings, hurtful denials, and a horrific death; yet, He hosted 12 of His closest friends, wrapped a towel around His waist, and washed their feet. He hosted one of His most effective, renowned, and referenced nights of ministry, despite His worry and exhaustion. Another situation all the more humbling was when He hung on a cross, beat so badly He was unrecognizable; yet, despite the weariness from even working up His breath to speak, He shared the gospel with the guilty thief dying next to Him.
So yes, life is hard. Situations are scary. Circumstances are painful. But, we live in a dry and thirsty world- thirsting for the Living Water. Yes, we can grow weary in doing good and need so desperately to depend on Him, but sometimes we sell ourselves short of the light we can shine on our dark, dark world by saying there’s too much brokenness to heal or we’re too tired. So yes, death is at our doorstep. It is real and big and scary sometimes. But our correct response is not to cower or to isolate ourselves, but to build each other up in love and to serve the world around us, knowing that our Sustainer will renew us day by day.